Advaita, my primary-school-going son, wanted to get a pet – the first animate thing he had asked for! I reminded him that he had to first learn to take care of himself to prove to me that he could be the care-giver for a pet. A few weeks later, I got two pots for me, secretly wishing it would be a good substitute for a pet. One already had a tulsi (basil) sapling. The other was bare, just a good amount of fertile soil in it. A few coriander and fenugreek seeds were sown with great care, nicely spread out all over the pot, and then covered with loose mud, with Advaita curiously hanging around.
A few days later when nothing had really happened, I grumbled “There’s no growth here.” What could have gone wrong? My maid, Manjula said, “Maybe the seeds were not that great….” I was disappointed though she kept my hopes alive. “Sometimes they take time…” Suddenly one day she pointed out a few whitish green tiny structures that had sprung up here and there in the plant-less pot! I was thrilled. But so few! At least two dozens of seeds had gone beneath the top layer of the soil, I thought, slightly crestfallen. The same evening I told Advaita, “Well, if you could water the pots regularly, it would be great!”, half knowing it would eventually become my job.
No wonder I didn’t allow him to keep a pet! I kept thinking that the fenugreek seeds seemed to have been devoured by the soil completely and the corianders were not making good progress. Manjula softly mentioned that they needed the same care that a newborn infant needs. “Nothing in excess – the sunshine, the water.” Soon a basket with holes was delicately placed over the pot with those tiny new lives to let in just the right amount of sunshine and protect the tiny ones from the water rushing down on them.
Strangely, my son, a smart city kid, with little appreciation for greenery and all that, had begun taking good care of the saplings, rarely forgetting to water them, so much so that I didn’t have to worry about their well-being at all! Had he realized the little precious lives depended all on him? And to think that he disliked doing anything that meant routine! He was visibly happy and excited with the way things were moving. He didn’t seem to have expected much, for he enthusiastically poured water in the pots, enjoying the daily ‘night job’.
As for me, I had given up hopes of the fenugreeks coming up, when one fine morning very tiny fenugreek shoots stood proudly, looking at us. When had they erupted!? Numerous fresh coriander shoots too had risen up from the same pot! They were all coming up, one by one – slowly but surely – when the time was just ‘right’, each growing at its own pace.
The monsoon showers are doing their bit of watering the pots now and then though rarely does Advaita forget his duty. Next time he asks for a pet, maybe I should agree…….Till a few weeks back I didn’t really know what patience meant and that it mattered in child-rearing as much as it mattered in growing a kitchen garden. Till recently, I didn’t think I could assign a job to my son and forget about it. And all of a sudden, the soft, dutiful side of my naughty, happy-go-lucky, city-spoilt son is shining bright and clear. Have the changes come in him with the shoots emerging and growing? Or did he have it in him just as the seeds were there inside the soil? Or maybe he is growing at his own pace, the admirable traits showing one by one – slowly but surely – when the time is just ‘right’? If this blog has touched you, request you to visit blog www.apubose.blogspot.com for my original article (under 2011/June/A parent relates how her involvement with her kitchen garden).